by Patrick Bromley
When MGM released The Belko Experiment earlier this year, I was concerned it was going to step on Mayhem, the new movie by director Joe Lynch, by virtue of being the first "office horror" movie out of the gate. That didn't happen for a couple of reasons. First, Belko failed to make much of an impact either culturally or at at the box office despite being a pretty well-made horror movie. More importantly, though, is that the movies share very little in common aside from their "trapped in a workplace" setup. Belko is a horror movie that happens to be set inside an office building; Mayhem is a movie about working in an office and how corporate culture beats us down day in and day out until we're ready to explode.
As someone who has been a longtime vocal fan of director Joe Lynch -- he's one of my favorite people working in entertainment today -- it's thrilling to say that I think Mayhem is probably his best film to date. It combines the dazzling technical precision and visual daring of Everly with the anarchic glee of "Zom-B Movie," his insane segment from the anthology Chillerama. It feels like the culmination of what we can call a "Joe Lynch movie" in that it's funny and violent and wildly energetic -- the kind of movie that requires multiple viewings just to appreciate all of the gags taking place in the background or around the fringes of the frame. But the movie is not just some exercise in chaos, either; instead, it's deeply rooted in the very real character and the very real crisis of conscience experienced by Derek. His frustrations with work and how his career has come to define his life feel deeply personal, and for as much violent chaos as Lynch orchestrates on screen, it's still easy to feel his connection to this material. He's working through every bad job he ever had. All of us are. Despite its high concept, that's what makes Mayhem so relatable.
The movie will be available exclusively on Shudder in early 2018, but don't wait until then. Rent it or buy it now so that Joe Lynch gets to make many more movies.